Sunday, January 22, 2017

The People who Walked in Darkness Have Seen a Great Light

Today was the first time I had the opportunity to hear Fr. Sam Lupico say mass at St. Pius X in a long time.  When he said mass every week his emotional and long homilies could occasionally lead me to zoning out.  But when I haven't heard from him in months, my attention was all there.  Today he was on fire.

He talked about the first reading that included the line from Isaiah: The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.  He reminded us how this was written at the time of the first of the three prophets who contributed to the book of Isaiah (as he almost always does when we hear Isaiah read at mass).  

That line has always been inspiring to me.  It is a reminder that since the eighth century before the common era, people have been concerned about dark times and renewal.  The chance for rebirth.  The chance for change.  The chance to achieve something better.  Each time, humanity has found a way to move ahead.  I'm sure that even though that was the first writing of the saying, people had struggled and overcome before that.  From a philosophical and spiritual point of view, it gives me hope to think about the fact that over a time period that is approaching 3 millennia, people have felt like they were walking in darkness and seen a great light.  People have overcome.  People have come out better on the other side.  Not just one coming out better.  But groups and societies and humanity.  

And that gives me hope.

What is your great light?  

Monday, January 16, 2017

Remembering Boston 2013

Reliving the Boston Marathon bombing
  through Patriots Day was challenging but cathartic.
Remembering trying to qualify for Boston—
  because I thought that was important.
Remembering registering—
  because I thought that was important.
Remembering planning the trip—
  because I thought that was important.
Remembering traveling with two runners from Baltimore—
  because running is about friendship—brothers and sisters in shoes.
Remembering the expo and meeting my future coach—
  the first being necessary and the second because I love to learn.
Remembering finishing in a respectable time—
  because I thought that was important.
Remembering finding the bus with my stuff—
  because that was necessary.
Remembering meeting up with my two friends—
  brothers in shoes reunited.
Remembering taking the time to gather stuff and change—
  because we didn’t want to be cold.
Remembering getting on the subway—
  because that was necessary.
Remembering the first news as we were on the T—
  because it forever changed my running.
Remembering sending a brief message home—**I’m okay**.
Remembering posting to social media—**I’m okay**.
Remembering the chaos of being forced off the T—
  because of the uncertainty.
Remembering the chaos of the emergency vehicles
  headed on streets headed toward the finish line.
Remembering the crowd at the hotel
  staring at the TV in the lobby in disbelief.
Remembering the adrenalin as we drove back—
  because we all wanted to see our families.
Remembering the black SUVs on the high speed roads—
  because they wanted to solve the mystery.
Remembering hearing that an eight year old
  had died in the bombing—my youngest son was eight.
Remembering the pain of knowing that someone
  had lost their eight year old.
Remembering the uncertainty for days—
  because I was scared and angry.
Remembering the feeling of “runners will be strong”—
  because I wanted to be defiant.
Remembering to hug family and friends more tightly—
  because that is what truly matters.
Remembering my first professional trip back to Boston—
  because I was so emotional.
The movie put the human cost in stark relief.
I continue wondering why people ever do this to each other.
Pondering whether I will ever want to run it again—
  because I’m not sure it is important for me.
Knowing that I will keep on running, whether Boston or not—
  because running promotes life and love.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Goals for 2017

With New Year's Day having come and gone a lot of people make resolutions.  I set goals.  Is there a difference?  I think so.  My goals are year long adventures.  Some of them are things I need to concentrate on every day.  But rarely is there something that if I miss one day (or even one week) it will be the end of the world.  Most of the goals this year are life refinements to make what I am already doing make more sense.  Here they are:
  1. Continue with my Mandarin studies
  2. Sleep more.  Last year I ran further than even before and I worked more hours than ever before, but I also gave up 18 minutes of sleep per day.  That was great for quantity of effort on various things.  Not always great for quality.
  3. Take two five minute “quiet times” or mediations or whatever I want to call them each day.  I know how valuable it can be.  Key is just to keep it up in the same way I do with running.
  4. Continue to work intensely.  This year can be about smarter rather than harder.
  5. Continue to run intensely.  Not sure that “hard” can be escaped on this one.
  6. Journal every day.  Even if it is a string of words no more than one sentence long.  Write something that forces me to reflect on myself and my world each day.  I’ll learn more that way.  I’ll grow more that way.
  7. Finish writing projects.  Especially the one about my lessons from Comrades.  I got started and it has sat.  I also have a lot to write about mentoring.  Both for a talk in February, and in general.  People seem to respect my mentoring.
  8. Spend more time sitting at meals with family.  Cooking with family is great.  But we need more undistracted time together.
  9. Keep friendships going. 
  10. Find out about others’ passions. 
You will see that 3 and 6 are things for which I will be aiming for every day.  Number 2 I have to worry about each day but inevitably there will be ups and downs.  Number 8 is critical for family.  Number 9 is valuable.  And number 10 will help when I am looking for inspiration--learn more about what inspires others.

For number 5, my New Year's Day race was important.  This year, I don't have my races planned out other than anticipating Memorial Day weekend for MCVET, Father's Day weekend at GBMC, and the Turkey Trot.  I am also thinking of the JFK 50 miler, but I don't have any half or full marathons on my agenda.  For the 5K's, I'd love to go back under 20 minutes.  Yesterday's workout was the first step in that direction.  8x400 with none slower than 90 seconds and several at 86 seconds.  I let go of workouts like that for much of last year.  I need to get them back.

The is a good exemplar for much else in my life.  It's all about the "package deal."  Running is its own little package deal.  Life as a whole is a package deal.  It is up to me to assemble it in a meaningful way.